245963 Negative Life Events and Depressive Symptoms in Young Adolescents

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cara Young, PhD, RN, FNP-BC , School of Nursing, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Background: Adolescents are at risk for developing mental health problems if they are unable to effectively cope with negative events. A clearer understanding of the relationship between negative life events and depressive symptoms is a critical first step towards developing effective prevention interventions. Purpose: To examine the prevalence and type of negative life events and their relationship with level of depressive symptoms in a school-based sample (N=111) of 7th and 8th grade adolescents. Significance: Depressive disorders that develop during adolescence often become chronic, recurrent conditions that cause significant burden for the adolescent, their family, and society. Identifying stressors and depressive symptoms early may prevent enduring negative outcomes. Methodology: A cross-sectional correlational design was used. Participants completed the Adolescent Life Events Questionnaire to assess negative events in four domains (i.e., family, romantic relationships, school, and friends/social activities) and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale for Children to assess level of depressive symptoms. Findings/Results: Participants reported negative life events in all domains with the school domain, proportionately, receiving the most responses. Negative life events were positively associated with depressive symptoms overall (r=0.61, p<.001) and within each domain: Family (r=0.57, p<.001), romantic relationships (r=0.50, p<.001), school (r=0.34, p<.001), and friends/social activities (r=0.55, p<.001). Conclusions/Recommendations: Findings suggest that adolescents experience a variety of negative life events and are at greatest risk for the development of depressive symptoms as the cumulative effects of multiple stressors overwhelm their adaptive functioning. These results highlight the need for strategies that minimize stress and promote positive mental health.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the prevalence and type of negative life events experienced by young adolescents 2. Examine the relationship between prevalence and type of negative life events with level of depressive symptoms in young adolescents

Keywords: Adolescents, Depression

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I currently serve as a postdoctoral fellow who conducts research on mental health promotion and depression prevention in adolescent populations. I also served as a family nurse practitioner in school-based and private health settings with a focus on adolescent mental health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.